Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Baptism Day

The day was absolutely gorgeous, as only a cloudless spring morning can be. The air was lightly scented with overtones of flowering crab and cherry blossoms -- it's a little early for lilacs in DC, but they'll soon be adding to the potpourri coloring the air.

It was rather comforting to be back in church -- there's something timelss about sitting in a pew surrounded by strangers, and still knowing the liturgy by heart. It's been many years since I've been to a traditional Lutheran church when it wasn't a special service, and it's nice to know I still know all the tunes.

Anyway, Braden was most unhappy to have had his morning breakfast disrupted by a group of people running around the house asking if someone had grabbed the camera, diaper bag, cookie cake, extra clothes, etc. He is at the "no one but Mommy" stage, so while poor Mommy tried to get ready to go, Braden treated us all to an impressive display of lung capacity. Kay was trying really hard to time his feedings so that he would be full, dry, and happy for the baptism. As is the way of babies, though, Braden refused to follow this arbitrary schedule and decided he wanted to finish his interrupted breakfast when church started. Kay took him to the nursery room to feed him. This was going to be okay, though, because the baptism was scheduled to be after the sermon. Because he is a baby and doesn't always follow everyone else's schedule, we also didn't dress him in his little baptismal outfit -- a decision that was borne out the day before when he blew out the brand new little horsey-and-bib-overalls outfit that Justine brought him from Missouri with a "we've been waiting for three days" poop. The pastor assured us that if we quietly took him out and dressed him up in his new little outfit, we'd have plenty of time to get him back in time to walk him to the font during the last stanza of the post-sermon hymn.

Now, in the church in which Kay and I grew up, the sermon was 20 minutes on the dot. Any less, and the old Germans didn't feel they'd gotten their offerings worth; any more, and the farmers started grumbling about missing prime field time in the afternoons. So when Kay hadn't come back by the time the sermon started, I calmly grabbed his little outfit and went to find her so we could get him dressed and happy before his big church debut. I found her and we put him in his little duck romper (the matching hat was a TOTAL no go for him). Since that took less than 5 minutes, Kay thought she'd have another 10 minutes or so to "top him off" and make sure he was dry and happy before we headed back in. She had just gotten him appropriately placed and sat down in the rocking chair when we both heard the unmistakeable strains of the organ -- the hymn had started. We looked at each other in horror and started throwing things into the diaper bag. Grandma Mary came flying through the hall of the church and banged on the door, mouthing, "Get in there NOW!" through the glass. I grabbed Braden and set sail toward the sanctuary, while Kay frantically put herself back together and made sure that nothing was showing that isn't supposed to be showing in church, nursing mother or not.

So, as a result, Braden was NOT "topped off" for his baptism. I most assuredly was NOT his mommy, and he most assuredly was NOT happy with the situation. He spent the entire baptism screaming his displeasure to the congregation while I tried to keep a serene and beatific smile on my face. Kay finally rescued me and took him to try to calm him down. His unhappiness subsided a little, until the pastor took him and started pouring water over his head. That was SO not okay in Braden's world. At least I wasn't the only baby holder for whom he screamed.

So, baptized and sealed with the cross, Braden and family took some requisite pictures after the service, and then we all headed to a local restaurant that specialized in serving bison burgers. I just couldn't convince myself to take the plunge -- I went for regular cow.

We went back to the house, changed clothes, and just hung out while we tried to work up the motivation to get back on the road and leave. After two days, Paul was starting to feel more comfortable with the idea of holding the baby (he lives in fear that he's going to drop one), so those two snuggled in together for a while. Braden tried on the cowboy boots that I brought him -- too big, but oh my stars are they cute, and Grandpa Tom put together his rocking horse that came from Missouri.

It was pretty hard (let's be honest -- I'm a Puck descendant, and so are Mary and Kay, so there were tears involved) to say goodbye, but we finally got the car loaded and headed back east around 4:00. Paul was just as disappointed to go flying by all the Civil War battlefields on the way back as he was to have to do it on our way in. He consoled himself by sticking the camera out the window and shooting pictures of the Allegany mountains while we passed through them. I can't say they're great photos, but they're not too bad for being shot through the window at 80 miles per hour!

We drove to Cambridge, Ohio, where we spent waaay too much on a motel room and crashed. The next day we had a lazy morning, enjoyed the free (snort -- it ought to have been free for as much as the room cost) continental breakfast, and hit the road at a leisurely 9:30. We barreled on through and made it back home before dark.

There's a strange sort of disconnectedness this week, as if I'm still expecting to walk through the door and see family. I also downloaded our pictures as soon as we got home, and it was a very odd notion to think that only 48 hours earlier, I had been standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and gazing over the Reflection Pool at Congress and the Washington Monument.

It's good to be home, but a small part of my heart now lives in Washington, DC. I can't wait to go back again.

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